Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Heaven for breakfast

So, school has started and let me tell has gotten crazy. I try really hard to be a morning person, but between trying to work out and get myself ready (because I'm still walking my kids into their classrooms and I don't want to frighten any children) and waking my sleep-deprived (still used to summer schedule) children, and making lunches and getting my girls' hair done and waking up my two boys and walking to school...breakfast has been difficult to squeeze in. As "supposedly" the most important meal of the day, a breakfast of a pop-tart on our walk to school is decidedly sub-par. Yep, they seriously ate a pop-tart for breakfast, an organic one mind you, which only means they didn't like it and I had to threaten to get them to eat even half of it. So...I decided to do something today that would make tomorrow easier. I made muffins and froze them. I KNOW they will like them because they tried them today and LOVED them...and seriously...they are chocolate chocolate chip. How could you not like them? So, maybe it isn't cracked wheat cereal, but it is at least whole wheat. We'll get into our hot cereals again next week...but I do think I'm going to make these again and freeze them for those mornings where time just gets away from me.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 1/4 C freshly, finely ground whole wheat flour

1 C sugar

1/2 C cocoa

2 eggs

1/2 C vegetable oil

1 T baking powder

1 C milk

3/4 C chocolate chips + 1/2 for the tops of the muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all ingredients except chocolate chips. Mix on low speed for 1 minute and on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in 2/3 C chocolate chips. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 14-16 muffins.

P.S. Notice the tiny little hand expectantly waiting for the muffins??? I love those little hands even more than I love the muffins.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Whole Grains...still so good for you!

So, with this ever-increasing trend leading us to gluten-free diets, some of you may be wondering if whole grains are good for you anymore? The answer is an emphatic YES! If you are not gluten-intolerant, whole grains are definitely good for you! The fact is, our body needs the fiber, selenium, potassium, magnesium and other naturally-occuring vitamins and minerals in whole grain foods. Whole grains are one of the best sources of complex carbohydrates for your body. Complex carbohydrates are carbohydrates that release energy slowly and for longer periods of time so you have more energy and stamina throughout the day. And...whole grains are low in fat. If you are confused as to whether a whole grain diet is through my many posts about the health benefits of the multitude of whole grains I use on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, using a variety of grains is a major contributor to most healthy diets. So, before you abandon your whole grain diet for a gluten-free the following articles about the benefits of a whole grain diet.

Mango Salad Continued...

Okay, thanks to my sister...the mango salad marathon goes on and on. She took these fabulous pictures for me of different ways she used this salad...each of which was fabulous and had its own unique twist and flavor. goes...the myriad of possibilities for the mango salad:

1. Mango Salad (in its original form)
2. Salsa for sweet pork burritos...I can give you that recipe if you want...they were AMAZING! My sister is quite the cook!
3. An additional item in a green salad...lettuce, veggies, topped with mango salad. (By the way...that dressing is home-made cilantro-lime dressing...yes, its to die for...want the recipe??? Just let me know!)

4. An additional item in a grilled chicken salad many salads can you reuse this many times??? This is the ultimate Flip-Flop recipe!!!

Note: If you are wondering why I don't have my sister take all of my pictures for me instead of the pitiful attempts I make to photograph my own food...the answer is I DON'T KNOW! I'm wondering the same thing!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cake fresh from the garden???

Yep...its Carrot Cake! Truth be garden didn't turn out this year at all. I literally mean that not one plant made it. I know...sad, right? I think we can safely say that I was born without the ever-coveted green thumb. I've been wallowing in self pity over this fact for quite some time now. I do know, though, that some of you have wonderful gardens and although I am fighting the jealousy monster raging inside of me...I've decided to give you a recipe that will allow you to use the fruits of your labor. I'm going to try to put my negative feelings aside long enough to tell you that this recipe took a while to perfect, but now it is wonderful. If you like carrot cake with chopped walnuts in it, you can stir some in with the grated carrots. I, however, prefer cakes with consistent textures throughout, so I left them out. Sorry if you are a walnut-loving carrot cake person...I'm just not. you go...enjoy!

Carrot Cake

2 C sugar

1 C vegetable oil

1 T vanilla

4 eggs

2 1/2 C whole wheat flour

11/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

3 C loosely packed grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together except grated carrots. Mix on medium speed for one minute and then on high speed for one minute. Stir in grated carrots. Grease and flour two 9 in. round cake pans. Divide cake batter into greased round pans. Tap pan on counter several times to get rid of any bubbles created by the grated carrots. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. (Its okay if your cake sinks a little in the middle…it won't show when the cake is finished) Let cakes cool completely while preparing cream cheese frosting. Using a knife, even up the sides of the cake so there is not a dip in the middle by cutting around the outside of the cake and removing the top layer (making the cake level all over) Turn first cake out onto cake platter. Spread generous layer of cream cheese frosting on the top of the first cake. Turn second cake out on top of first cake. Frost generously with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 stick softened butter

21⁄2–3 C powdered sugar (to taste)

1 tsp vanilla

About an hour before making frosting, get cream cheese and butter out of the refrigerator and set on the counter to soften at room temperature. Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat for several minutes until mixture is light and fluffy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can it really be healthy AND delicious???

YES! I found this salad on a blog and it is absolutely delicious. My mom got something called Bountiful Baskets and it included TWO CRATES of mangoes!!! What do you do with two crates of mangoes??? That is too many mangoes for any family to consume...unless you make this salad for every gathering coming up, which is what I did. I changed quite a few things in this salad from the first time I made it and now it is absolutely divine. We ate it three times this week! I took it to my sister's son's baptism, our family ate it one night when we had guests in town and I took it to a get-together last got rave reviews every single night! My sister actually made it last night for her family, too. So, here is the recipe...enjoy!

Mango Salad
1 C uncooked quinoa

1 can vegetable broth

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2-3 mangoes, peeled and diced (I like a lot of mango!)

4 green onions, sliced

4 T red wine vinegar

2 T olive oil

2 T lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

Stir together quinoa and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Remove heat and cover. Let steam in pot for about 5 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy and liquid is gone...DON'T LET IT BURN!!! Cool. Stir together diced bell pepper, black beans, diced mangoes, sliced green onions and cooled quinoa. Stir in vinegar, olive oil, lime juice and salt. Chill for about 30 minutes to an hour.

P.S. In this picture, I actually left out the black beans, but I prefer it with the beans.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Loving the bananas...

I've been on a bit of a banana theme recently, if you haven't noticed. First, banana pancakes, then banana banana waffles. My sister was in town for the weekend and she LOVED these waffles. You almost don't even need the syrup with the sweetness of the bananas...mmmmm.

Banana Waffles

2 C buttermilk

1 C milk

3 medium ripe bananas (mashed)

1/4 C + 2 T brown sugar

4 eggs

1/4 C oil

2 T baking powder

4 1/2 C whole wheat flour

Mash bananas and add oil, eggs brown sugar and buttermilk and mix. Add flour and baking powder. Mix on medium/high speed until thoroughly mixed (about 30 sec. to a minute). Bake on heated, greased griddle or skillet. Makes 16-20 waffles.

And for the other cake...

This was the other cake we ate for dinner on Tuesday. Once again...try to plan ahead and place this where it is supposed to go in your meal. As good as is it is...even though it has bananas, whole wheat, milk and cannot justify this as your entree...believe me, I tried. Here is the recipe:

Banana Cake

1 C milk

1 3/4 C whole wheat flour

2 medium bananas

1/2 C butter

3 eggs

1 T baking powder

1 C granulated sugar

1 tsp. banana extract flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter until frothy. Add in sugar and beat until creamed. Add milk, bananas, eggs and banana extract. Mix well. Add in flour and baking powder and beat for 1 minute on medium and 2 minutes on high speed. Pour into greased 13X9 pan. Bake for 30-33 minutes.

Frost with Buttercream frosting as follows:

3 sticks butter (beat on high speed until light)

4 C powdered sugar (add 1 C at a time and beat after each addition)

1/2 tsp. banana extract

Add 1-2 T milk, as needed

After adding all powdered sugar, add banana extract and milk.

mmmmmm........So tasty and so naughty...

Yes, its true...we actually had cake for dinner tonight. Not even I can justify it. Even though it was whole is still a poor excuse for dinner. I tried thinking..."well, it had eggs, milk and whole wheat"...but, no, the sugar, butter and frosting ruined my attempt to make sense of my careless disregard for the nutrition of my family tonight. I actually made two different cakes. One, the one featured here, is a coconut cake. The other was a banana cake. I'll post the recipes for both so that you can plan ahead and actually make them for dessert...where they were intended to be placed on the menu. Then you can avoid the guilt-laden conscience I am now trying to ignore. On a brighter note...the cakes were DELICIOUS!!!

Delightfully Sinful Coconut Cake

1⁄2 C butter

1 C white sugar

1 tsp. coconut extract

3 eggs

1 egg yolk (discard the white)

1 C milk

13⁄4 C whole wheat flour (sifted)

1 T baking powder

1/3 C shredded, sweetened coconut

Cream butter and sugar. Add in coconut extract. Add eggs, egg yolk, and milk and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Sift baking powder and flour together. Mix flour mixture and egg mixture and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, then on high for one minute. Stir in shredded coconut. Pour into greased 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-33 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly. For cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes.

Frost with Buttercream frosting as follows:

3 sticks butter (beat on high speed until light)

4 C powdered sugar (add 1 C at a time and beat after each addition)

1/2 tsp. coconut extract

Add 1-2 T milk, as needed

After adding all powdered sugar, add coconut extract and milk. Top with shredded coconut.